Tag Archives: Karissa Samuel

Breast cancer detection.

16 Oct

In my series dedicated to breast cancer awareness, I would like to focus on the importance of early detection.
In my previous blog on this topic, I honoured my late friend, Karissa Samuel, one of the the most important elements that she always spoke about was early detection. In my research on this topic, the age at which women should test their breast varies from different continents. In South Africa, its common to start from the age of 40, The American Cancer Society, for example, says they’re optional for women starting in their 20s. I simply say we can start as early as possible with the self examination. The sooner breast cancer gets diagnosed, the better your odds of getting a successful treatment for it are.
That’s why it’s important to have regular breast exams by your doctor, mammograms as recommended, and to check your breasts for any suspicious changes.
First and foremost, It’s a good idea to know how your breasts normally look and feel so you can notice any changes. This also starts with self love, looking and appreciating your body. Cherish its curves, lumps, contours and shapes. Spend time alone with yourself, naked in front of the mirror, identifying your unique shape and form and most importantly, love what you see and have.

How Should A Breast Self-Exam Be Performed?
1. In the shower:
Using the pads of your fingers, move around your entire breast in a circular pattern moving from the outside to the centre, checking the entire breast and armpit area. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, or hardened knot. Notice any changes and get lumps evaluated by your healthcare provider.

2. In front of the mirror;
Visually inspect your breasts with your arms at your sides. Next, raise your arms high overhead.
Look for any changes in the contour, any swelling, or dimpling of the skin, or changes in the nipples. Next, rest your palms on your hips and press firmly to flex your chest muscles. Left and right breasts will not exactly match—few women’s breasts do, so look for any dimpling, puckering, or changes, particularly on one side.
3. Lying down.
When lying down, the breast tissue spreads out evenly along the chest wall. Place a pillow under your right shoulder and your right arm behind your head. Using your left hand, move the pads of your fingers around your right breast gently in small circular motions covering the entire breast area and armpit.
Use light, medium, and firm pressure. Squeeze the nipple; check for discharge and lumps. Repeat these steps for your left breast.
It may better to wait 3 to 5 days after your period ends to do your self-exam. That’s because hormonal changes before your period can cause a temporary thickening in your breast that goes away after your period.
If you’re still unsure, your doctor can go over the self-exam with you.

Most women don’t start having mammograms until they’re at least 40. If you’re at higher risk for breast cancer, your doctor may want you to start at a younger age.
A mammogram can show breast lumps up to 2 years before they can be felt. Different tests help determine if a lump may be cancer. Ones that aren’t cancerous tend to have different physical features than ones that are. Imaging tests such as mammograms and ultrasounds can often see the difference.

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I have listed three spaces in Africa, that specialise in breast and gynaecological treatments.
The first is where I did my mammogram in 2015 with Dr. Nadia Jajbhay:

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1. The Women’s health and mammography institution, in Killarney, Johannesburg, South Africa. (WHMI)
WHMI is a breast care institute with a difference. Dedicated exclusively to breast cancer screening and diagnosis, patients can expect unrivalled professionalism and personal care.
WHMI radiologists are experienced in breast imaging, supported by a staff of experienced and committed mammographers all cutting-edge digital technology all under the supervision of a dedicated practice manager.
At WHMI we understand your need for privacy and optimum care under sensitive circumstances such as this. Whether you’re a mother or daughter, wife or sister, home executive or professional
Contact email address is: infodoc@whmi.co.za

2. In West Africa, in Nigeria there is the Reddington Hospital breast and gynaecology centre in Lagos.
“The Breast and Gynaecological centre provides a full range of high quality and personalised healthcare services ranging from women’s health, including a Gynaecology Clinic, a Breast Health Clinic to a Women’s Wellness Clinic.
“Located in the heart of Victoria Island, Lagos, the Centre offers services covering fibroid, infertility care, menopausal health, pelvic health, hysteroscopy, and simple office procedures. Reddington Hospital Group Medical Director, Dr Olutunde Lalude said in keeping with the Reddington’s tradition of being the front runner in medical breakthroughs in the country, the Breast and Gynaecological Centre boasts of cutting-edge technology never seen before in West Africa.
‘’They include a 3D Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (3D Mammography), a 3D Automatic Breast Ultrasound System (3D ABUS), a 3D Digital Breast Streotaxic Biopsy System (3D Stereo), a 3D MRI with 1.5 Tesla GE Explorer Technology.

3. In East Africa: The Mater Hospital, in Nairobi, Kenya.
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The Mater Hospital has installed mammography machines and the price of mammogram was reviewed to an affordable rate. So far mammography is the most reliable method for breast screening and early diagnosis of breast cancer .To allow the service to be accessible to all women, we now accept walk-ins for routine checkup on women above 40 years of age. Privacy of the patient is maintained by having only lady radiographers to perform the examination.
inform@materkenya.com

If you have more information on other regions or countries in Africa, please send through and I will gladly blog about them.

A tribute to our warrior princess: Karissa Samuel

13 Oct

In 2015 after I had to undergo an excisional breast biopsy, I made a promise to myself and my creator that I would do as much as I can to support the breast cancer cause. When the lump was initially located and the doctor could not perform a regular biopsy, it was decided that since it had been growing at a rapid rate, that I have it surgically removed. That way if it was cancer, I would have caught it early and would then have the opportunity to make the necessary decisions regarding the treatment and my healing. After the diagnosis, I called on a number of friends for support and guidance. Karissa Samuel was one of them.

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I met Karissa a few years back after she had watched me act on stage during a performance of The Vagina Monologues. A few years later we reconnected through mutual friends within the entrepreneurial space. Like many I was drawn to her phenomenal insight, intelligence and passion to life and well to be honest, to her ‘fuck off attitude’ to any form of discrimination, ignorance and racism. Karissa at the time had been diagnosed with breast cancer and made the brave decision to not let that dominate her life. She educated herself on the disease, the medication, she spoke and wrote honestly about the emotions attached to it and she turned any negativity into positivity. She continued with her entrepreneurial and philanthropic work through her TNF foundation, motivational talks and my absolute favourite, her laughing session that she did whilst doing her chemotherapy. Karissa was an absolute force to be reckoned with. She was definitely the change that was needed in the world. Unfortunately, Karissa passed away this year.

So, as we have moved into ‘Breast awareness month or Pinktober’ I dedicate this blog to the spirit of Karissa Samuel who ignited love, light, laughter and positive energy, wherever she went. She had an infectious smile, with piercing dimples. I thought it would be best to actually quote her from one of her thought provoking blogs: This picture also accompanied the blog post.

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‘Two years ago today I shaved my head on National television in solidarity with many who were facing the diagnosis of Breast Cancer & the journey towards remission. I was also in the middle of chemotherapy at the time, so my baldness was inevitable. I wanted to say out loud that when it comes to health, my beauty or lack thereof meant nothing to me.
I was determined to do whatever I needed to, embrace the present reality to get to my end goal of remission.
For many of us, Pinktober is the least restful time of the year, a time when our personal, daily, pervasive awareness of breast cancer is not even remotely represented by the bright, bouncy public face of pink fundraisers and the ubiquitous evidence of corporate merchandising that surrounds us.
I’ve researched the legitimacy of countless breast cancer organizations, including those who offer financial help. There’s no doubt that many suffer financially having cancer and could use some cash while we’re waiting for a cure. The last time I googled ‘breast cancer organizations,’ I got ten million hits. When I googled ‘breast cancer charity organizations list’ just now, I got three-and-a-half million hits.
In South Africa, there is no one who is monitoring these organisations effectiveness or activities.
Please let me not get started on these ridiculous challenges. How does wearing pink lipstick on a Wednesday or posting a no-make up selfie:
Spread awareness of Breast Cancer
Explain the warning signs
Teach about the importance of self breast checks
Offer time, energy or effort to the patients
Do anything of value towards the cause
I’m over the explosion of corporate merchandising known as ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’ — aka Pinktober.
Breast Cancer doesn’t only exist once a year. But I’ll force myself to engage as a survivor, post a few facts, some links and grab all opportunities in the Pinktober to speak publicly and educate as many as possible while we have the platform.
This October, my own awareness campaign is far too personal to be represented by a ribbon, a colour or a sash. My personal awareness campaign is about getting my life back, supporting my family and friends, remembering those I have lost, reclaiming my body as my own, finding joy and fulfillment daily. It’s about choosing a path that is not saturated in a color that infantilizes and trivialises the depth of the disease, but one that is spent with those in need, surrounded by spring reminding them that no matter where they are now, they aren’t alone. And I’m taking it one step at a time. Feel free to join me.
Its about how we thrive after we survive that matters.’

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To keep her work and spirit alive please support Rockstart.
Rockstart is a minimum of 24 months nose-dive into the creative economy. Combining formal education with hands-on engagements, with product developers, writers, innovators and designers. Rockstart tackles the problem of developing a hugely underserved talent pipeline.
Rockstart partners with education institutions serving one creative economy and all businesses to develop a cohort of next- generation creative leaders, who are committed to giving back using their talent.
Rockstart sources and provides talented young people with access to quality and relevant education for careers in creativity. Rockstart meets the skills and the educational needs of South Africa’s rapidly growing youth population.
Rockstart improves students’ core competency skills, social competency and work place readiness using meaningful, culturally appropriate and transferable accredited qualification from Vega School of Brand Leadership, AAA School of advertising, Lisof and Boston Media House.
If your business has a brand, product or marketing department, Rockstart is your opportunity too.
http://www.rockstart.org.za

Love and miss you always, Karissa!!!!